Having founded Cornershop Online, an online portal that offers local retailers the chance to offer online ordering and delivery for their customers, Pardeep talks to SLR about how the website works
What is Cornershop Online?
It’s an online platform that enables convenience stores to sell online. It may seem like something any retailer could do on their own, but those who’ve tried will know the problems they face, such as the forthcoming EU regulation EU1169, which means anyone selling goods online must provide the same information as a label, so that means getting nutritional and allergy information on every single product. To do that individually is impossible.
Where did the idea come from?
My parents had convenience stores in Tyne & Weir so when I came out of university I spoke to them about setting up online ordering. I quickly saw what the obstacles were for individual retailer – issues over image copyright, the forthcoming EU1169, the fact it was cost-prohibitive. It gave me the idea of creating something collective. Online ordering, click and collect; that is where retail is heading.
How long has it taken to launch?
The original idea was born around 18 months ago, but it’s really been seven months of intense work to get to this stage. Every new business relies on luck and we’ve had plenty. There’s a team of five of us, including three software programmers. We’re the first company to do this, and I’m sure that we’ll get competition in the future, but coming from a retail background, we know retail. We know how hard it is, how hard retailers work. We’re not just sitting in an office programming software.
What’s the interest been like?
It’s been unbelievable. We’ve launched with a limited number of stores and we’re talking to more all the time. We’ve been told by some that they’ve tried and found it impossible which goes back what I said about one site for every retailer being the only solution.
In what way does it help by having one site?
For a start we have access to the Brandbank depository which is what the supermarkets use for images and information. Even then it’s not perfect so we combine that with our own staff’s work. We talk to suppliers to add convenience only PMP barcodes, for example.
How does the system work from a retail perspective?
After a retailer contacts us, we’ll speak to them and see if they’re suitable for the site. We’re very rigorous as we need to be confident orders will be fulfilled. If you get through that process you’re already an outstanding retailer. Retailers then have access to an admin page where they can set up their own store within the site. The retailer decides what products to sell. They can analyse reports too. We can set someone up in around a week.
And what about shoppers?
They visit the site, put in their postcode, and are taken to their nearest store. They can then browse and pick like on a supermarket site. They have the option to pay by card, click and collect or cash on delivery.
Speaking of which, how does delivery work?
We offer same day delivery. Or customers can chose a date and time they’d like the delivery made. That’s something our retailers have to agree to. Stores have been getting basket spend of up to £40 and it’s being getting delivered within the hour.
How much does it cost retailers?
Retailers pay an annual fee of £250 +VAT and that covers their SSL Certificate, which ensures safe and secure online transactions and Brandbank fees. We’re incredibly proud of how low that is. Then we take a commission fee of 50p per transaction.